Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Murder, Sex, TV and Contradictions in Pop Culture

I'm constantly amazed by what passes for entertainment.

I'm constantly amazed by what must be withheld by the censors, the people who ostensibly are there to protect our minds from images and ideas that are unacceptable.

Let's look at what's on tonight: CBS has NCIS, then NCIS Los Angeles.  That's the two roughest offerings tonight and frankly the rest of the week is going to be kind of toned down.  It is Thanksgiving week, after all.

But there's the various flavors of CSI, Law and Order, Castle...any number of offerings.  The common element in all of them: somebody's been murdered.

I don't mind a police drama.  I really enjoyed NYPD Blue, the way it picked out the complex interpersonal relationships between the detectives and their superiors, the grudging respect of the uniform cops for the detectives, just the whole tenor of the thing.  And somebody wasn't getting killed every five minutes, either.  I did think it was a little too formulaic that assorted members of Andy Sipowicz' family and friends had to get killed off to give the season a big juicy ratings bump at the end of each season.

What I mind is that these terrible images, the ghastly dessicated corpses that litter the examining tables in Bones, the assorted bits and pieces of person on Ducky's slab in NCIS make it past the censors, but God forbid if anybody's derriere shows.  Yes, those people are dead and their guts are splayed all over, but their groins are covered and the women don't have nipples.

Are we, as a nation, that scared of sex?  We can handle murder and grisly disemboweled corpses better than we can handle naked live people?

I can hear the censor now: "The death and disembowelment is an adult topic.  Those shows are geared for adults.  They can handle it."

But what would the censor say about full frontal nudity?  "There might be children watching."

What about the children watching the disemboweled corpse?  No response.

Here's my thing: it makes no sense to me for a very simple reason.  I want my kids to grow up appalled by murder, by violent death.  I don't want them used to it, to not flinch at it on the screen.  I expect them to live very long, very full lives that don't include them murdering anyone.

I do, however, expect them to have sex once in a while.  They'd better.  I want grandkids one of these days.

So.  To recap: we have endless opportunities for young people to become completely inured to the idea of killing, of murder, of assorted violence.  But we carefully police how familiar they become with how naked people look?  As if they couldn't simply turn around in front of the mirror after a shower and figure it out?

Humans are weird.

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